Azerbaijan will host a round of the Formula 1 World Championship in 2016 with a street race to be held in the capital city Baku, it has been confirmed.
Located in the Southern Caucasus region and one of the world's fastest developing nations, Azerbaijan first signalled its intentions to join the F1 calendar earlier this year but negotiations have now been finalised with the race to be known as the 'Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe'.
Though the layout and design of the circuit is yet to be finalised, the race will be based around Baku's Azadliq Quare and will encompass the city's medieval Old City, its fast growing modern skyline and the fringing Caspian Sea.
“I am delighted to officially announce that we have signed a contract to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku in 2016,” said Azerbaijan's Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Azad Rahimov. “Our location at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia is a new frontier for Formula 1 racing.
“Azerbaijan is a modern European country that has established a reputation as a centre of sporting excellence. The deal to bring Formula 1 racing to Baku is a very significant new chapter in our ongoing success to attract the world's largest sporting events to our country,” he added.
“Baku's 'Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe will be a spectacular addition to the Formula 1 calendar. The course that we are planning to design will be similar to leading street circuits already on the FIA Formula One World Championship calendar.”
Located at the crossroads of eastern Europe and western Asia, Azerbaijan's inclusion on the F1 calendar was welcomed by Bernie Ecclestone.
“We are very happy that Baku has joined the Formula 1 family. This will be a street race, which will pass through interesting and picturesque parts of Baku. The event will meet the current Formula 1 criteria.”
A nation rich in natural resources, Azerbaijan has developed swiftly since the turn of the millennium, posting the highest GDP growth between 2000 and 2010, while the capital city Baku has hosted a series of high-profile sporting and entertainment events.
Azerbaijan hosted its first international motorsport event in 2013 with the concluding round of the 2013 FIA GT Series around the streets of Baku.